Blue skies and critical insights

December 4, 1998

Your coverage of the debate surrounding educational research draws heavily on James Tooley's research, yet his work contains a number of contradictions. For example, his negative reference to one of my papers, which you cite, is followed in his report by an acknowledgement that this same paper is of direct relevance to teachers.

Tooley's attack on research concerned with race and gender equity leads me to wonder whether one of his aims is to undermine initiatives to promote social justice in education. I hope education ministers will not be distracted by his questionable findings.

Tooley's claim that I overlook boys is spurious, since my research was not about pupil achievement but about the nature of school history and the ways in which textbooks may distort the past and ignore women's achievements. It is vital that pupils and teachers have access to high-quality texts. The research in question sought to address standards and gender justice. In my judgement these are not incompatible goals.

Audrey Osler School of education University of Birmingham

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